Docherty, Jayne Seminare

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DOCHERTY, Jayne Seminare


Female. Education: Brown University, A.B., 1978; George Mason University, Ph.D., 1998.


Office—Eastern Mennonite University, 1200 Park Rd., Harrisonburg, VA 22802-2462. E-mail—[email protected].


Taught conflict resolution at Columbia College, Columbia, SC, and George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, until 2001; Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA, associate professor of conflict studies, 2001—.


Learning Lessons from Waco: When the Parties Bring Their Gods to the Negotiation Table, Syracuse University Press (Syracuse, NY), 2001.

Strategic Negotiation (Little Books of Justice and Peacebuilding), Good Books, 2004.

Contributor to periodicals, including Terrorism and Violence, Marquette Law Review, and Nova Religio.


Jayne Seminare Docherty is a professor of conflict studies whose first book, Learning Lessons from Waco: When the Parties Bring Their Gods to the Negotiation Table, is based on her doctoral dissertation. As the title indicates, this scholarly study centers on the 1993 tragedy in which federal agents clashed with the Branch Davidian religious sect, ending in a fire that killed nearly eighty people. Docherty studied government records, interviewed FBI agents, and discussed the event with other scholars before preparing her analysis of why the fifty-one-day standoff ended in utter failure. The central problem, she points out, is that the two sides—Branch Davidians and government negotiators—possessed two entirely different worldviews that the federal agents failed to reconcile. As William L. Pitts, Jr. explained in the Journal of Church and State, the Davidians "sought to discover meaning in the symbolic language of Scripture. The FBI agents saw themselves as moderns who constructed their views based on scientific discovery of truth. Goals differed as sharply as worldviews. Whereas the Branch Davidians wanted to communicate their message, the FBI was interested in a quick end to the standoff."

Docherty does not try to pinpoint exactly what went wrong and who is to blame for the deaths, mostly because government records are incomplete and ambiguous on what led to the fire that destroyed the Davidian complex, but her analysis of how differing philosophies led to a breakdown in communications is useful, according to reviewers. For instance, Utopian Studies contributor Stephen J. Stein asserted that Learning Lessons from Waco "represents a major step toward clarifying one important aspect of the tragedy, namely, the reasons why the negotiations between the government and the community failed miserably." Docherty also goes on to suggest over a dozen ways that federal agents can improve their methods to avoid other Wacos, and Stein concluded that law enforcement agencies would be well advised to "take seriously the useful counsel that Docherty offers."



Journal of Church and State, summer, 2002, William L. Pitts, Jr., review of Learning Lessons fromWaco: When the Parties Bring Their Gods to the Negotiation Table, p. 593.

Library Journal, November 15, 2001, Julie Denny, review of Learning Lessons from Waco, p. 85.

Utopian Studies, spring, 2003, Stephen J. Stein, review of Learning Lessons from Waco, p. 157.*